The Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming off of one of their best seasons in school history, a 12-2 campaign and win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
Now, with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles at Ohio State and a host of Cowboy defenders gone, the Pokes will lean on a stout defensive line that include three of the Big 12’s best defenders: Collin Oliver, Tyler Lacy, and Brock Martin. Plus, the Pokes have a veteran quarterback in Spencer Sanders that has seen nearly everything college football has to offer, which will certainly help to get them through the 2022 season.
Will Mike Gundy find a way to replicate his team’s success from 2021? Here are the best-case, worst-case, and most likely scenarios for Oklahoma State in 2022.
Oklahoma State’s defense continues to flourish under the direction of Derek Mason and takes a minimal step back from last season’s unit but still remains Top-10 nationally and is good enough to win games nearly on its own. Spencer Sanders plays within the offensive scheme and has the best season of his career, with the emphasis remaining on a strong running game. Dominic Richardson and Ollie Gordon combine for a dangerous one-two punch in the backfield while Brennan Presley and Braydon Johnson do enough at wide receiver to elevate the passing game from a year ago. Oklahoma State rumbles through its schedule and finds itself in the Big 12 Championship game for the second consecutive year.
The losses on defense are too much to overcome as the secondary and linebackers aren’t able to pick up the slack. The regression defensively puts added stress on Spencer Sanders to win ball games with his arm and his turnover habits continue to show up in big games. The running game doesn’t get established and Dominic Richardson proves unable to carry the load as the Oklahoma State offense sputters. Sanders athleticism and experience along with the defensive line carry the Pokes to the finish line with enough wins to get to a bowl game, but its not nearly the year that folks in Stillwater were hoping for after 2021.
While the defense takes a bit of a step back, it remains one of the best in the Big 12 and gets Oklahoma State off the field when it needs to. Spencer Sanders gives us another carbon-copy year of 62% completion rate and a 5:3 touchdown to interception ratio. The running game takes a few games to get going but eventually becomes the strength of the offense as Mike Gundy’s squad finds itself right in the thick of the Big 12 race near the end of the season. Ultimately they come up just short of getting back to Arlington, but they have the opportunity to get to 10 wins again with a bowl victory and hit the over on the win total of 8.5.